Pavlovian autoshaping procedures provide for pairings of a small object conditioned stimulus (CS) with a rewarding substance unconditioned stimulus (US), resulting in the acquisition of complex sequences of CS-directed skeletal-motor responses or autoshaping conditioned responses (CRs). Autoshaping procedures induce higher post-session levels of corticosterone than in controls receiving CS and US randomly, and the enhanced post-session corticosterone levels have been attributed to the appetitive or arousal-inducing effects of autoshaping procedures. Enhanced corticosterone release can be induced by aversive stimulation or stressful situations, where it is often accompanied by higher levels of norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin (5-HT) in prefrontal cortex (PFC) but not in striatum (ST). Effects of autoshaping procedures on post-session corticosterone levels, NE contents in PFC, and 5-HT contents in PFC and ST were investigated in male Long-Evans rats. Post-session blood samples revealed higher corticosterone levels in the CS-US Paired group (n=46) than in the CS-US Random control group (n=21), and brain samples revealed higher levels of PFC NE and 5-HT in CS-US Paired group. Striatal 5-HT levels were unaltered by the autoshaping procedures. Autoshaping procedures provide for appetitive stimulation and induce an arousal-like state, as well as simultaneous stress-like changes in plasma corticosterone and monoamine levels in PFC. Autoshaping, therefore, may be useful for the study of endocrine and central processes associated with appetitive conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience